Job sharing by definition is the practice of tasking two part-time employees to share one full-time job. It is gaining popularity because of technological advances, lifestyle changes and employee expectations for work-life balance. Employers who offer such flexibility can boost retention and recruiting success and managers who know how to guide such an arrangement can increase their own marketability as well, proving they can creatively lead in a changing workforce that is increasingly expecting flexible work arrangements.

Although not roles we regularly place, we have come across various job sharing platforms which do seem to work, and seeing it is a fairly hot topic at the moment have compiled expert tips on how to evaluate, manage and execute a seamless job-sharing initiative within your organisation should the request arise.

1) Always evaluate requests objectively

 Change breeds a range of emotional reactions, and job sharing is frequently emotionally charged. While the emotional aspects are unavoidable, your reaction is completely in your control. Employees who propose a job share have likely undergone significant personal changes so it is in your best interest to listen and evaluate requests objectively, showing as little reaction as possible to the request with a completely open mind.

Initial considerations:

–       Is the role share-able? Roles that are structured, task-oriented, somewhat predictable, and do not require the involvement of one particular person are typically good candidates for job sharing. Those that typically aren’t, hinge on relationship management, require frequent contact with sensitive clients or partners, or demand erratic hours and reactivity.

–       What impact will the changes have?

–       How will specific responsibilities be divided and measured?

–       How much additional time will it take to manage and execute successfully?

–       What additional opportunities or benefits will this offer your team and organisation?

–       Will other employees resent or doubt the changing structure within their team and how will you manage this?

2) Communicate

Set up initial consultations with the willing sharers and talk out your concerns and questions. Consider the track record of each potential job-sharer and your assessment of his or her orientation to detail, ability to communicate and willingness to cooperate with others. Enquire about the reasons for it, how it will work and whether all parties involved in the company will be on board. If the needs of the organisation can be fully met within such an arrangement or with minor alterations, the resultant benefits may surprise you.

3) Approval and next steps 

Should your organisation approve the arrangement with your 100% commitment, set performance expectations that the two job-sharers establish their own system for file sharing, communicating and covering unexpected emergencies that may arise outside of either sharer’s schedule? Additionally, plan a regular face to face get-together with both parties present to determine how projects are progressing. This allows time to openly discuss unforeseen issues that may have arisen.

4) Adjust your style 

Job sharing is all about adjusting for the greater good. Allison Lackey, manager of communication for JB Training Solutions, suggests that managers focus on removing obstacles and adopt the mantra “bureaucracy stifles creativity and innovation.” If you can streamline processes—fewer meetings, more direct communication, more feedback and direction—or reduce paperwork, it will be easier for your team to succeed in this arrangement. Ask job-sharers what methods of communication and results reporting work best for their new, compressed schedule, and make adjustments into a system that works for all.

5) Set goals and milestones 

While job sharing employees gain freedom in their schedules, they lose, too— income, benefits and status at work. As a manager, you should keep the arrangement productive and progressive by setting objectives and goals, just as you do for full-time employees. Evaluations will enhance their motivation and ownership, allow you to troubleshoot problems before they spiral out of hand and give insight as to where employees are excelling and struggling in the arrangement, so you can better handle future requests.